Congratulations are in order for Rickie Fowler, who notched his first PGA Tour title with a playoff victory at the Wells Fargo. The win was perhaps all the more sweet because he won it in a playoff that included World #1 Rory McIlroy. In regulation, Fowler also managed to edge out another excellent young player in Webb Simpson.
With the win, Fowler sheds the title of Best Twentysomething Without A Tour Win. That dubious title came with an asterisk, however, as Fowler won the Kolon Korea Open in October 2011.
This win isn’t a fluke. Fowlers’ been close before: He had a second at the 2010 Waste Management Phoenix Open and entered the final round of the 2010 Memorial with the lead. In 2011, Fowler tied the 54 hole lead at the AT&T National, and finished in a tie for second at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. Flashes of brilliance all, but this is the first time he closed the deal.
Given the continuing struggles of the player on whom all the PGA Tour hopes rested, a win by Fowler is a very good thing indeed. In spite of his rather scruffy look (and I absolutely can’t stand that hat), he’s a personable guy who seems to appeal to the younger crowd. Fowler, McIlroy and other young stars should put the Tour in a very good position—assuming they put as much effort into marketing them as they did with that other guy.
Through thirteen events this year, five under thirty have won. In 2011, there were 18 wins from 16 players in their twenties.
Overall, I am really enjoying the level of competition this year on the Tour. We’ve seen some exciting playoffs and generally speaking, no one is running away with tournaments. That keeps me watching down to the wire, which is surely what the Tour and television want.
Highlights of the final round are below: